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Delegates meeting at SAG-AFTRA’s biennial convention elected Rebecca Damon as executive vp, the union announced Friday, retaining her in the post she had been serving in since April 2016, when the union’s board elected her to fill the slot vacated by Gabrielle Carteris, who was elevated to president upon the death of then-president Ken Howard.
Damon, allied with the Unite for Strength slate, had faced Matthew Modine, a member of the opposition Membership First faction. Damon also serves as acting president of SAG-AFTRA’s New York local, a position she has held since the death last month of local president Mike Hodge.
“It is my honor to continue to serve the members of SAG-AFTRA as executive vice president and as acting New York local president,” Damon said. “I will fight for the future of our union and make sure we stay ahead of the curve and prepared to face tomorrow’s challenges.”
“Our congratulations to Rebecca on her re-election,” said Carteris. “She has been a strong and tireless advocate for SAG-AFTRA members. I look forward to continue serving with her in the coming term.”
Also elected Friday were a number of geographic and category vice presidents, but names were not immediately released. Other offices, such as president (Carteris was re-elected), secretary-treasurer (Membership First’s Jane Austin was re-elected), board members, local officers and board members and convention delegates themselves, were elected by vote of the membership in August.
The convention, taking place at the Sheraton Universal, is closed to press and public, but the agenda includes votes on constitutional amendments, various panels, and a keynote conversation featuring director/producer Nancy Meyers with Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz.
The agenda also includes a Friday night gala presentation of the American Scene Awards, which honor content creators that realistically portray diversity, and of the George Heller Memorial Award, which bestows a SAG-AFTRA gold card on member leaders and/or staff who have made a significant contribution through years of service to the union. The presentation will feature master of ceremonies Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin) with an afterparty featuring DJ ButchonTap.
The American Scene winners have already been announced: 20th Century Fox Television for This Is Us, Atlantic Music Group for Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) and The Hamilton Mixtape, and the San Diego State University Research Foundation for KPBS San Diego. As that list suggests, there are three awards, one each in the entertainment, music and sound recording and news/broadcast categories, which correspond to SAG-AFTRA’s main areas of jurisdiction. Only union signatory projects are eligible.
“I am extremely pleased to announce the three recipients of this year’s American Scene Awards,” said Jason George, chair of the union’s diversity committee. “More work definitely still needs to be done, but projects like these [nominees and winners] prove that being a hit and being inclusive are not diametrically opposed.”
Said Jenny O’Hara, chair of the union’s honors and tributes committee: “The American Scene Awards are unique in the entertainment industry — they are the only SAG-AFTRA award that recognizes producers and content creators for their diversity efforts. Representation matters and we will continue to reward union signatories that prioritize the creation of content that reflects the world in which we live.”
In separate news, the union’s independent but affiliated charitable arm, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, announced that it will honor Lionel Richie as the first recipient of its Recording Artists Inspiration Award; Kate Winslet with the Actors Inspiration Award; and director/producer Judd Apatow, director Kathryn Bigelow and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos for their roles in supporting actors and performing artists in their careers. The event is set to take place Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
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